18.10.2017 - 27.10.2017 74 °F
This part of the trip took some research for sure. We were originally just going to fly from Paris to London - easy right. Not...to bring an animal into the UK by plane they must travel in the cargo hold...not going to happen. Animals are not allowed on the Eurostar - that's out, have to be in the kennei on the ferry, unless you have a car, one way car rental - nope. Finally I found Pet Travel Abroad - a taxi company! We took the train from Paris Gare du Nord to Caiais where our taxi was waiting for us at the station.
Our driver Alex took us to the pet check in area and thanks to Shai's Pet Passport we breezed right through!
Onward to "Le Shuttle" - the car train for the channel tunnel
All went smooth, the taxi dropped us at the train station in Folkestone, England, we took the next train to London, taxi to hotel, and Bob's your uncle - that's how you get a cat from Paris to London!
There was a nice pub down the street from the hotel we walked to for dinner. Ray had fish & chips, I had a burger, both excellent!
The full english breakfast - toast, eggs, potatoes, rashers of bacon, bangers, beans, grilled tomatoes, and mushrooms! Heart attack on a plate!
Another day in search of wine, cat food, and wandering London. This was our third time in London so the usual sights were not in the plan - we actually have had bad luck on prior visits to the UK so we were keeping our heads down! Our first visit in 1997 we left Paris the night Princess Diana was killed and arrived in London the weekend of her funeral. Our next visit was in 2001, September, we were in Caernarfon Castle in Wales when we first heard about the planes hitting the WTC. We were halfway through a 3 week visit with our last week in London. When we arrived in London our hotel room had been given away - they were not expecting us as planes were not flying. Fortunately they did find us a room for the week.
Laundry day again. We were staying very near Paddington station, the neighbor hood becomes residential very quickly.
I love rooftop bars. I found one in the Waterloo area of London that has a great happy hour - that was our destination for this evening. We passed the London Eye on the way
After walking up the four floors the Bar Elba rewards you with 2 for 1 cocktails, thousands of tiny lights, a friendly staff, and really great food!
We split a burger and TWO orders of fries! The fries were their version of poutine (gravy, cheese, bacon, green chiles) and oh so delicious
Meeting Old Friends for the First Time
Off to pick up our rental car and head up north to Nottingham!
I met Glenn about 9 years ago playing a Facebook game and we have maintained contact since. I've watched his children grow up, his writing develop, and his books being published (shameless plug https://www.amazon.com/Glenn-Scrimshaw/e/B009HNIXR8 )
He invited us to his Halloween Party - we came dressed as the scariest of all - American Tourists!
Glenn & me
Glenn's wife Kay & me
Of course I had to bring a little Texas treat - Glenn is whiskey lover and this one was wonderful!
We had a lot of fun meeting them all - turns out Kay & I are very much alike!
After a day of chilling & laundry
we decided it was time for some curry. We barely made a dent in the food but it was delicious!
Next we headed south to Southampton. I decided to minimize the moving around and spend the last 5 nights before the cruise home at the hotel near the cruise port. By this time I had taken over the driving - turns out I'm a natural at driving on the left!
You really can't get much closer to the cruise terminal!
Very busy cruise port - new ship almost every day - Independence of the Seas
Shai loved this window - lots to watch!
Winchester and the Cathedral
We still had the car for a couple more days so we headed to Winchester to the Cathedral for a visit. Winchester is a lovely town and the Cathedral is amazing.
The Cathedral was built in the 11th century in the Romanesque style soon after the Normans conquered England. It was remodeled in the 14th century with Gothic arches. By the 16th century the Cathedral was completed much like it is seen today.
The center aisle - Winchester is the longest cathedral in Europe
The intricately carved choir
The 15th century great screen behind the high altar
Some of the amazing stained glass
This diving helmet belonged to William Walker - the man who literally saved the Cathedral. Seeing the diving helmet reminded me of the documentary I'd watched about this.
"When huge cracks started to appear in the early 1900s, the Cathedral seemed in danger of complete collapse. Early efforts to underpin its waterlogged foundations failed until William Walker, a deep-sea diver, worked under water every day for six years placing bags of concrete. "
Original 13th century floor tiles
The original Romanesque arches are still visible in one area of the church - the rest were all converted to high Gothic
Jane Austen is among the people buried there
It is an amazing place with a storied history.
After the Cathedral we stopped for a nibble and refreshment at a little Italian place before walking back to the car.
A Day at the Beach
We were greeted with a beautiful day - the QE 2 in port today
We decided to take a drive down the coast a bit and ended in town called Fareham at the Osborne View Pub. The place had beautiful views of the Isle of Wight. We ordered some lunch & bottle of Shiraz.
After lunch we took our wine outside to enjoy the sunshine. They had a great lawn area with picnic tables & a fabulous deck. We eventually landed in the comfy chairs on the deck and as we do made fast friends with the couple sitting next to us.
After our 3 hour lunch stop we headed back to Southampton. I really loved the driving on the right.
That night we went for a preview of The Dancing Man Brewery - a group of us on cruise critic had decided to meet there the night before we sail to get acquainted - we'd been chatting online for about a year! Dinner was wonderful - we were looking forward to returning in a couple of days.
Hair Day and a Wine Find
Today we returned the renal car and were able to walk back to the hotel and to my hair appointment. We found a barber for Ray - he even got the OAP rate (Old Age Pensioners) - and we were both ready to go!
By this time it was dinner time and I found a little Italian restaurant to try. Piccolo Mondo was tucked away in a quiet side street and was a treasure find! We really fell in love with Amarone wine this trip and our new friend the sommelier told me to look for 2012 as it was a very good year. So we looked, and looked, and looked - it was nowhere to be found. Sitting in this restaurant I noticed on the chalk board it said to ask about wine specials - so I asked. It was an Amarone, I asked to see the bottle - it was a 2012, I asked if I could buy it to take with me - of course you can! It is sitting in my wine rack waiting for a special occasion!
Getting Ready for the Cruise
This day was spent with a quick trip to the mall for some last minute items, packing, and meeting a group from the cruise critic forum at The Dancing Man Brewery. We had a great time as I never stopped long enough to take a photo! Little did we know just how much fun we would all have over the next 15 days.
Shai watching me pack
A ship leaving under a gorgeous sunset
Tomorrow we sail!